Woolwich continues restoring historical records

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 8:45am

Some of Woolwich’s earliest birth and death records dating from 1731 to 1835 have been newly restored and digitalized. Each page was rehydrated, repaired if needed and sleeved in protective mylar. The pages were then bound in a new brown leather volume, its spine lettered in gold. 

Maine requires municipalities to preserve vital records permanently. “This restoration/preservation process allows us to comply with state regulations while also making unique historical documents accessible again,” Town Clerk Chelsea Lane explained.

Kofile Preservation, based in Essex Junction, Vermont, was hired to carry out the restoration, which took about five months. “They did a really nice job considering some of the earlier pages were in pretty rough shape,” added Lane. “Now that they’ve been preserved, and digitalized, they’ll be very helpful for people doing genealogical research.”

The town office is preserving its historic records as funds become available. Last year, voters raised $2,200 towards the effort. Lane said the cost for the latest book came to $1,858, which included $200 for imaging. She said there’s enough left in the budget to repair another volume of vital records this year. “We’ll have a digital copy and a microfilm version that I can send to the Maine State Archives in Augusta for safekeeping. Because this book was in such bad shape, it was the most expensive one out of all the others we’ve gotten quotes on.”

“This latest book contains some of the town of Woolwich’s oldest birth and death records. Something interesting is the town clerk back then recorded births and deaths chronologically, by the family name. A lot of the names are familiar ones, too – people whose families have lived in Woolwich for generations,” Lane told Wiscasset Newspaper.

The restored records, all handwritten in pen and ink, are stored in the town office’s fire-proof cabinet under lock and key. Vital records are required to remain with the town clerk, but Lane said people are welcome to see them during the town office’s regular hours.

“We do ask that they schedule a time. The ideal thing is to email me at townclerk@woolwich.us